Amid the imminent arrival of fresh contract talks, Dr Helmut Marko has told Max Verstappen not to expect a vast increase in salary to put him on par with Sir Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes package.
The Dutchman and the Briton are reportedly the two highest paid drivers in Formula 1 at present, with Verstappen said to be receiving $25 million a year, while Hamilton brings home circa $40 million per annum.
Verstappen beat the seven-time world champion to the Drivers’ Championship in 2021, and Dr Marko is keen to renew the contracts of every team member as soon as possible.
“We are in the process of extending all contracts by five years to ensure continuity within Red Bull,” he told Autorevue.
However, he admits that the 24-year-old’s manager has been a difficult man to get hold of in recent weeks, and would like to put pen to paper to extend his current contract that runs until the end of 2023.
“We will be having talks with Max in the coming weeks. His manager was difficult to approach because his son and Jos Verstappen were at the 24-hour race in Dubai,” he added.
“With Verstappen we are already close to the limit. There comes an end to it.”
The Dutchman previously had a clause in his contract that allowed him to leave Red Bull were they not performing up to expectations, and Mercedes are generally expected to be able to pay more than their Milton Keynes-based counterparts.
However, Jos Verstappen – Max’s father – has previously detailed his loss of respect for the eight-time constructors’ champions after last year’s intense rivalry, implying that there are no longer any inclinations for Max to join them.
Dr Marko is confident that such a move would not materialise.
“I don’t believe Max will switch then,” he stated.
“The events at Silverstone have really damaged the relationship with Mercedes, especially Jos. I think that makes him less willing to switch. And it can’t get much more expensive anyway!”
Formula 1 sees sweeping technical regulations for the 2022 season, as the ground effect makes a return amid major aerodynamic changes in a bid to allow for a better racing spectacle.
As for Red Bull’s competitiveness this year, the Austrian’s philosophy is to prioritise the work of the team over statistics.
“I don’t care about that [the data] any more,” he declared.
“I only look at the progress we are making, which is significant.”
The 78-year-old then detailed his team’s ability to rapidly make progress, even were they to make a slow start to the year.
“We are known for the fact that we can quickly become a top team, if we are not one at the beginning.”
Red Bull have not yet announced a release for their 2022 car, and this is reportedly owed to the fact that their RB18 has failed a crash test, according to the Italian edition of Motorsport.com.